Chinaberry Sidewalks

Chinaberry Sidewalks

Book - 2011
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Recounts the author's experiences growing up in Houston in the 1950s as the only child of an alcoholic father and epileptic mother, describing a coming-of-age marked by barroom brawls, apocalyptic hurricanes, and wild improvisations in the face of unpaidbills.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307594204
Branch Call Number: B Crowell
Characteristics: viii, 259 p. : ill. ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Chinaberry sidewalks : a memoir


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May 16, 2018

Super book. Rodney Crowell is not only a remarkable songwriter/poet, he can write prose too. This books tells of his early days growing up in Houston. Despite poverty, health issues and abuse he recounts his childhood in a very loving way. Well worth reading.

Oct 03, 2011

Rodney Crowell’s memoir, Chinaberry Sidewalks covers his early years. This is not a book about his rise to fame, but more of a loving tribute to his parents. Rodney was often in the middle of his father’s drunken rages against his mother, who in her turn, was a holy-roller who also had a fondness for beer and whipping Rodney. Yet his words are laced with humor, wryness and a loving fondness and the final pages, when he’s by the bedside at first his father and then his mother’s death there is a tender strength that often shows up in his musical lyrics.

Growing up in the 1950’s and 60‘s, his parents were scrabbling to make a living in East Austin. Rodney both idolized and abhorred his father. Together they had a love of music, and Rodney was taken to see Hank Williams Senior, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis by him. But the dark undercurrent that was brought out by his father’s drinking was never far from Rodney’s thoughts. He also had to keep a close eye on his mother at all times as she was epileptic and Rodney had to be ready at a moments notice to administer to her when she had a seizure.

Rodney Crowell is a master lyricist and this ability shines through the pages of this book. Honest, humble, and humorous, he paints a picture of growing up poor, with these damaged parents, yet also is able to portray the love that his family ultimately shared and the value in this upbringing that shaped the man he is today.

Aug 22, 2011

Crowell evokes his hardscrabble Texas childhood with humour and surprisingly warm remembrances of his parents. It was not a "Father Knows Best" kind of family, and many other people raised there would be bitter and sitting in psychologists' offices forever. But Crowell is generous, kind and forgiving. I have never heard a Crowell song, but if his songwriting is half as good as this memoir - I've been missing out.


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